My inaugural post for my vegan blog is about Esther, the wonder pig.
When I found Esther and her dads on Facebook I knew that this was the perfect way to start my new blog. When I first found their page two weeks ago it had 30,000 likes. Today they have over 80,000 likes. They have become animal advocates by simply being caring, compassionate human beings who made the connection between dinner, factory farming and the lil piggy that they loved so much.
Here is the story of Esther and her two dads, Derek Walter and Steve Jenkins.
Once upon a time, in Ontario, Canada 13 years ago to be exact Steve was a waiter at Montana’s restaurant and Derek was a table magician. Derek was the first person that Steve, “came out” to. According to Steve, ” It was a pretty crazy time but I told him how I felt, we started dating and we’ve been together ever since.”
Steve is currently a Realtor and Derek is a professional Magician. Their family started with two dogs and two cats. “All of our animals are rescued. Shelby is our bigger dog and we’ve had her for ten years. She was a “guard dog” at the workshop beside the unit where Derek stored some of his magic gear. The owners asked us if we could babysit her while they moved shop and never called us back to come get her.
Reuben is our smaller dog. We met him while visiting family. He belonged to a relative that was going through some personal issues and just couldn’t keep him. We offered to take him in and now he’s been with us for 5 years. Finnigan is our large cat. He was born under my moms deck. We were able to find homes for the other kittens and kept Finnigan ourselves. Deloris is our smaller cat. She was a barn cat and the runt of the litter. I went to feed them and noticed Deloris hiding. I put some food close to her but the others wouldn’t let her eat. I couldn’t leave without her.”
And then came Esther.
Steve and Derek had been told that Esther was a “micro-pig”, that she was 6 months old and would weigh no more than 60-70 lbs when they got her. She fit into a cat carrier. But when they took her to the vet they found out differently. She was actually only six weeks old and her tail had been cut.
” Derek and Steve surmised that Esther had been born on a commercial farm and had been cast aside because she was a “runt.” But if the couple was surprised to learn that their new companion animal had likely been destined for a dinner plate, they were even more surprised to see how similar Esther is to their dogs. She easily picked up how to sit for a treat and even how to open the refrigerator door to sniff out something yummy, such as an apple. She loves to play tug-of-war and tag and chew her toys, and nap time means finding the nearest dog or human to snuggle up to.” [i]
Here are some questions that I asked Derek and Steve:
How did you chose the name Esther?
We wanted a human name, something that was very comfortable and happy. Esther seemed like a great traditional name and for some reason it just fit.
What does Esther’s diet consist of?
She eats a pig kibble that looks like rabbit food. We add rolled oats, barley and corn to that too. She also gets a ton of fruit and veggies, any leftovers and over ripe produce goes to her.
What’s her favorite treat?
She loves granola bars!
Are the dogs and cats vegan as well?
We haven’t made the transition to vegan diets for them yet. We are looking at switching the dogs after finding a very highly recommended food but haven’t found anything for the cats yet. There seems to be a very divided opinion on having cats on vegan diets. We’re not sure what to do with them yet.
I read that having Esther was the impetus to going vegan. Can you describe the process you underwent in detail which brought you to that choice and was there one defining moment that nailed it for you.
There was definitely a specific moment we both looked at each other and said “we’re done with meat”. It was about a month after we got Esther and we decided to have breakfast for dinner. It was the first time in weeks and bacon was on the menu. Derek was cooking and Esther was in the kitchen. He looked down, looked at me and said “I can’t do this”. I was having the exact same thought and that was it. We started to watch a few documentaries and the more we learned the more upsetting it was. As Esther grew and her personality grew with her it became harder and harder to think of what happens in those farms. People have become so desensitized to farm animals they don’t even consider how badly they suffer. To us those barns might as well be full of golden retrievers, we don’t understand the difference. Pigs are among the most intelligent animals in the world and we abuse and torture them in disgusting ways with zero consideration. Esther made us imagine her in those barns and it was heartbreaking. She is so smart, sensitive and loving to imagine her in those conditions is enough to bring years to our eyes. It took me about 10 months to a year to get dairy out of my diet, Derek went pretty much cold turkey but meat was gone immediately.
I have also read that you are desiring to open an animal sanctuary. Can you tell me more about that?
We knew as Esther grew we needed a country property. As the months went on we kept watching documentaries and finding different organizations online. We stumbled onto a place called “Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary” and met the owner Siobhan and Peter. They were amazing and the more we spoke to them the more we both wanted to do the same sort of thing when we were able. It was more of a dream than anything else but still something we knew we had to do. Over the last few weeks with all the chaos surrounding us now it’s become a much more real possibility and we’re working on a few fundraising efforts to help us make it a reality. We want a place that people will want to visit. Perhaps a community garden and cooking classes, B&B, farm tours etc. Anything to make people come and interact with the animals. We know the more people can interact the bigger impact we can make. People seem to have a real disconnect between the animals and their food. Esther is helping us “put a face on food” and it’s having an incredible impact. We started the page for friends and family but it has become so much more. It’s changed the course of our lives. We call ourselves “accidental activists” hahahaha.
Someone on FaceBook has suggested a childrens book about Esther are you considering that?
We are absolutely exploring a few options. We don’t have anything concrete as of yet but it’s high on our radar. Again, anything we can do to help people establish a connection between animals and their food.
And what about a t.v show or a movie about Esther?
A month ago we would’ve though you were crazy but the more time passes by, the less crazy it seems. She honestly changed our lives in so many ways, tested every thread of our being and made us question ourselves time and again but she has become something we never imagined. She’s having the same effect on other people, it’s incredible. Maybe it is a story the world needs to hear?
Does Esther have any favorite pig movies or animal movies.
Well she’s been forced to watch Charlottes Web a few times now, there’s something very familiar about that story.
To learn more about Esther the Wonder Pig and her two dads you can go to their facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/estherthewonderpig,
her webpage, http://www.estherthewonderpig.com